This gent was the Director R&D of BEL, after retirement he set up Alpha Design Techhttp://www.spsmai.com/military/?id=3484 ... 7-campaign
Alpha Design front-runners of 'Make in India' campaign
Alpha Design Technologies is a home-grown company with global aspirations. In 11 years, it has made enormous strides in defence manufacturing, having grown from a three-man set up to over 850 employees. Alpha Design Technologies is a model company of how India can take its ‘Make in India’ campaign and cater not only to the domestic market but also the international market. In an interview with SP’s M.A.I., the founder Chairman and Managing Director of Alpha Design Technologies, Colonel H.S. Shankar (Retd) speaks on the company’s plans.
SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): What were the objectives of Alpha Design when you started 11 years back and how far you have achieved?
Col. H.S. Shankar (Shankar): The main objective was to set up in the private sector a technologically strong defence and avionics design and production organisation to cater for the needs of army, air force, navy and paramilitary forces. We aimed to carry out the above by establishing a strong research and development (R&D) and production base and in collaboration, where necessary, with DRDO labs, IITs/IISc, DPSUs, other private sector industries and OEMs abroad.
We have been largely successful in our endeavor. From a threeman start-up, we are now 850 people strong, with ultra-modern production facilities and we are one of the fastest growing defence R&D and production units with 520 young engineers, who are in the age group of 21 to 29 years. We have steadily grown to reach Rs. 200 crore annual turnover and the company’s next year’s sales is expected to cross Rs. 300 crore mark. With a strong and impressive order book position of Rs. 1,000 crore plus and in addition, large number of indigenously developed equipment/systems in various phases of user trials/evaluations by the defence and paramilitary forces, we can only grow higher and bigger!
SP’s: What were the strategies you adopted for achieving this quick growth?
Shankar: We made a careful study of the defence market and identified those types of equipment and systems that will be needed by the armed forces in the next five to 10 years and those which can be undertaken by us. Those identified as our own designs, we started work immediately, putting our own R&D resources. Regarding collaborated projects, we identified our partners – in India and abroad – and had a plan of action for each identified project.
We also decided to answer to all the RFIs and RFPs which were in our focused areas and started taking part in user trials/evaluations. We won quite a few, lost some, but overall it was ‘Plus, Plus’!SP’s: What are the major successful equipment and systems you have developed through your own R&D?
Shankar: Through our own R&D efforts, we have developed and obtained orders from the MoD/others, after extensive trials and evaluations, equipments such as Hand Held Thermal Imager Sights, Reflex Sights, Tactical Access Switch-cum-ULSB Mk III, Tactical Access Switch, Communication Interface Units, SMART Hand Sets, Missile Recording System, Satcom Systems (such as portable SATCOM, WCDMA), RF Seeker Units for Missiles, Software Defined Radios and Waveforms, SDR-based Radio Relays, Dummy Targets, EW Simulators, Rolls-Royce Engine Simulators, 37 different EW modules, IFF Systems – Interrogator, Transponder, Combined Interrogator Transponder, etc. We also make various portions of airframe of Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft, such as Ailerons, flapperons, etc. All the indigenous Su-30 fighter aircraft produced by HAL Nasik (more than 150 fighters) carry sub-units made by us!
SP’s: What does the future holds for Alpha Design in next five to 10 years?
Shankar: During Aero India 2015, Alpha signed the biggest export order of $80 million with Elbit Systems, for exports of Thermal Imager Based Fire Control System sub-units to Israel. Alpha has an attractive order book of more than Rs. 1,000 crore and more than 70 per cent of this is for exports/offsets. Quite a few exciting in-house developed R&D products are either undergoing user trials or in the process of being offered for user trials/evaluations.
SP’s: What is your view on current policies of the government and improvements needed in functioning of MoD?
Shankar: The Government of India is doing its best to provide level playing field to public and private sector and the recent initiatives, such as, ‘Make in India’ programme has generated new enthusiasm in the industry. Private industries in defence sector should now develop their own products by investments in R&D, establish high end and high quality manufacturing facilities, with exports as focus and not depend on the government always. We must become outward looking like Israel and when we export, naturally, it will by itself cater for Indian markets. Of course, few more clarifications from MoD with respect to offsets such as inclusion of imported raw materials and electronic components as part of offsets; providing foreign exchange variation clause to private sector industries as provided to DPSUs; inclusion of MSMEs in ‘Make’ project, etc., can assist in ‘Make in India’ concept a reality. The government has approved 49 per cent FDI/FII for defence industries and this can be enhanced to 51 or even 74 per cent by automatic route, instead of through FIPB.